The Epic Epsteins

Our fashion line at Epsteins.
My dreams are like Wes Anderson films. At least, they always seem like it. Epic. Multigenerational, close-knit but crazily dysfunctional families, and the only way to survive them is to escape. Last night I dreamed I was part of a large Jewish family who owned a clothing store in Baltimore (we weren't the Hutzlers or the Kohns; I'm sure they're breathing a sigh of relief). We sold children's clothes (think more like the children's specialty shop Lad & Lassie from the eighties), with locations in Park Heights, Towson, and downtown. After decades of prosperity, however, it seemed my father (who looked a lot like Dan Lauria, the father from "The Wonder Years") made the strategic mistake of ordering the same line and style of clothing each year, so by the eighties we were still selling boys and girls styles from the sixties.

Slowly failing business aside, I was a teenager being molested by my father's brother Paul and his son (they were blond; maybe they married into the family). I thought I was in love with Paul's son and that he loved me and that we would somehow get married despite being first cousins, but when he got a girlfriend I was upset and told the girlfriend he was fucking me.

Of course, as things dutifully played out in the eighties (and probably even now), I was called a liar and a troublemaker by my mother and sent off to boarding school (which, considering the family's less-than-astute business decisions, I wonder if we could even afford). Around that time I began to wonder about my cousin Miriam, who moved out of the family compound in West Baltimore when she was seventeen and went to college in Chicago. Had she been molested as well? She'd never had any boyfriends; it made sense that she was just as damaged as I. We agreed to meet over the holidays. (She never came home usually, but at my request took the train in and spent one night at a boarding house.) Miriam confessed to being a lesbian and wondered if I was, too. 

I suddenly became very interested in Miriam, who pointed out that we were related and couldn't possibly pursue a romance (and I'd be estranged from the family, just like she was). When I pointed out that hadn't stopped Paul and his son, she became more adamant about my leaving the family behind when I graduated boarding school and starting my own life, in a different city, like she had. I said everyone thought/would think we were crazy, that only the ones who pretended to be normal, who didn't allow introspection into their own lives, their own failures and indiscretions, that they were the ones who wound up being "accepted." Maybe, she answered, but we were the ones who wound up being free.

I think I'd wear the checked skirt and beret.

Cue me leaving the coffee shop in a hug, walking around Mt Vernon, sitting at the base of the Washington Monument, Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" playing. What will I decide, and, more importantly, what fabulous vintage wardrobe am I wearing from our clothing store? Dreams have such emotional power for me, as a writer. They're a source of much of my work (May-September was a complete dream, as were several short stories). It would be interesting to adapt this dream into a novel. I hope Wes Anderson is available to direct, or, maybe in the interest of keeping in real in Baltimore, Barry Levinson. Have you had any dreams that were movie ready? I'd love to know I'm not alone!