KINSHIP: A Quaran-Zine Created by Lucie Pereira and Lissa Deonarain
Featuring art & writing by:
AJ Johnson Anonymous Anandita Choudhary Laura King Lissa Deonarain Lucie Pereira Paolo Bicchieri Stacey Wong
In so many ways, “community” means sharing space: town halls and family dinners, bodies packed together at a wedding or a funeral, a concert or a protest. It’s a unique predicament to care for one another by keeping our distance, one that feels contradictory in the most frustrating way. In the past weeks, I have been awed by the reimagining of kinship. Over Zoom and FaceTime, I’ve participated in lunches with coworkers, friendly Bananagrams competitions, poetry readings, book clubs, a discussion group on dreams, Mother’s Day brunch, Easter dinner, a baby shower, a reunion with childhood friends. And I’m convinced more than ever that our kinship with one another is an essential component of our genetic material, that in times of crisis we will always feel that urge to reach out with both hands. Lots of love and gratitude to our contributors, who explore many forms of kinship: kinship between family members or between strangers, between body and mind, between humans and nature. It’s been all the more special to create something out of your beautiful art and words during this time. With love,
Lucie Pereira Experiencing the flexibility and adaptable nature of community and relationships these past two months has been a whirlwind. For me, it’s opened up to so many opportunities to reconnect with those I unconditionally love but may not always make the time for as I get lost in my daily routine. It’s given me time to reflect on what and who I prioritize. It’s given me a chance to see just how important kinship is. When people feel trapped, they react in different ways—some shrink into themselves, while others expand; some are filled with creative energy while others desire escapism. No matter which group you find yourself relating to, there is always someone there to balance you out. From connecting through video chats or video games (thank you, Animal Crossing), it feels as if this period in time will be memorialized as a time of physical distance and emotional closeness. This kinship in this issue spans multitudes and goes far past being related through blood. Kinship is so many things—it’s dancing with our friends over skype, it’s mourning our losses, it’s finding new spaces of belonging, it’s uncovering our buried friendships, it’s freedom and empowerment in a time when we feel so helpless, it’s solidarity, it’s love. Thank you to our contributors for sharing your love with us, and thank you to our readers for showing us love. With love,
one more for Pecos Bill by Paolo Bicchieri
after Nas when my little brother tells me has the plague i listen to “Illmatic” and the irony doesn’t hit me until i’m laying in my too-large bed cleaving my thoughts back and forth like badminton, a game i was never any good at. his voice is thick now like the crisp density of a Bradbury apple, the kind Grandma Floy grew on her orchard in Zillah. that that town rhymed with Dilla didn’t hit me until i had moved away from the valley that would forever hold my family roots, enmeshed blemishes that spring surprise plumes of peacock feathers as each year erupts into the next. one such root is now a boy of fifteen and he tells me he’s scared, he says it’s scary. he reminds me there’s nothing i can do when i cry and tell him he has my whole heart.
i sink in a blue and gray hammock and wonder about my state of mind. i wonder why i didn’t jar and preserve each of the times we played spaceship in your crib, tucking it against the foot of mom’s toolarge bed. and i wonder why a decade hasn’t given me the balance this sweet root maintains like the frosting on each of your birthday cakes, the ones that were made by grandma and the Cars 2 themed ones from Safeway. his thick voice is breathing around a tear in his throat. he was born that way, doesn’t complain about the malacia, and it makes the tiniest cough into a fire storm which requires the soothing hands, the soothing drugs, of a pulmonary priest. you’re just a young person, younger than he was when he penned this mausoleum, and, just as he was, your brilliance will carry you through these predictions and prognoses. look, what i mean to say is you’re the miracle that the teachers made. you’re the Irish hand grenade that’s pin pulled with age revealed not explosives but small animals and acoustic guitar, the revolutionary heat of the IRA inside your hollow bones. you’re the tall drink of water the desert’s cactus turn their needles toward. and what i mean to say is if sleep is the cousin of death then you’re a burning sunrise, with eyes primed toward a horizon, whose shoulders never set. the world is yours. for now, the world is no one’s, not really, but if it’s anyone’s, it’s yours.
Photo by Stacey Wong
Amidst the Crisis Of the Coronavirus Hope Springs Eternal
Ode to the Bus by Lucie Pereira
myself through the open doors, I tap my Clipper card, the chirpy beep announcing my arrival. I’m out of breath, with wet hair stuck to my face and crumbs of a hurried breakfast on my lips. I am not a morning person—my day begins not when I wake, or as I’m getting dressed, but on the 7 Haight/Noriega Inbound. Pre-pandemic, my days were bookended by public transportation. A rotating cast of fellow travelers were my companions for each journey, our bodies jostling as our vessel sailed through rivers of traffic. Though I keep to myself on the bus, it’s the best place in the world for people-watching. I felt a sisterly camaraderie
with the woman with the shaggy haircut and the denim jacket. Like me, she rolled her eyes at men having obnoxious phone conversations and gaggles of tourists who took ages to pay, but smiled at the teens playing too-loud music for each other and the nannies whose strollers crowded the aisles. I was fiercely, maternally protective of the young boy with the yellow backpack who rode to school each morning, experiencing bouts of worry whenever he didn’t appear at my stop and awash with relief when he inevitably returned the next day. I felt a deep tenderness toward the woman whose heavy lids blinked shut on her evening commute, offering temporary glimpses of her perfect eyeliner. I first became a bus person in the third grade, when I started riding that iconic yellow chariot home from school. I quickly understood that bus people are special; the school bus had a unique culture, with its own social rules and hierarchies. On the bus, the older kids who would never acknowledge me at recess invited me to join their lawless version of Dungeons and Dragons. On the bus, the quiet boy in my class, who I normally outranked in popularity, became my tormentor—the bullying only stopped when my dad, alarmed when I arrived home in tears, called the boy’s family and made him cry over the phone. Despite the growing pains of assimilating to this new world, I grew to love my bus rides home. On sunny days we cracked the windows and basked in the glaring light as the dark green, fake leather seats absorbed the heat. We played “sweet or sour,” waving to strangers in their cars, cheering when someone granted us a smile or a friendly honk. In the city, the bus rarely sees the best of us. It sees us en route to the job we hate or the appointment we’re late for. It sees us exhausted and drained after a long day, this journey the one thing separating us from a hot meal or a warm bed. The bus is often too loud, or too crowded, or it smells kind of weird. Our frayed nerves snap as strangers invade our personal space. I’ve been witness to all manner of arguments and altercations, from passive aggressive glances to shouted racial slurs. Bus people behave very poorly sometimes, and I often find myself wishing we could all just cut each other some slack. And that’s why each small kindness feels all the more glorious. Each time someone gives up their seat, or reaches out to pet a stranger’s dog, or shouts “Back door!” to let someone go free. I feel more human on the bus than anywhere else. Something I miss the most these days: I grasp the yellow cord and tug, and it feels like taking control of destiny, the way we nudge forward through the intersection, the way I am delivered to the sidewalk as the vehicle exhales with a wheeze, tires kiss the curb, the way I slip through the parting doors and breathe, the way the gentle screeches and groans of the bus herald me home.
Artwork by AJ Johnson
by Lissa Deonarain
My ancestors came on ships Carted across the kala pani to the Caribbean Conned into promises of a better life My ancestors came on ships Stolen from their homeland Suddenly surrounded by strangers With similar circumstances My ancestors came on ships Jahajee Bhai and Jahajee Bahinâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Ship brother and ship sister They formed familial ties in order to survive Became kin Became Indo-Caribbean Connections rooted in our culture That still remain A reminder of our resilience That is kinship.
Photo by Stacey Wong
by Anandita Choudhary
October 14, 2019 was a universal 9, personal 5 day. Nine represents cyclical endings, and five represents freedom, expansion, and change. It was my first day at my new job, and it was Virginia’s first day too. We sat across from each other, the only ones in orientation. As the front desk person left the room for a moment to gather some papers, we chatted about our weekends.
“I went to the Cloisters with my partner yesterday,” she said.
“Oh, that’s cool.. wait, isn’t that in Fort Tryon Park?”
“Oh how funny, I was at Fort Tryon all day on Saturday!”
She looked at me in shock at the coincidence, and then as if she had something to tell me but didn’t know how. The front desk person came back and we had orientation, were given a tour of the office, and went up to the tenth floor to look at the view of the city. We chatted about our lives and our upbringings – her, a child of the Miami coastline and me, a child of the PCH. We talked about our star signs. I told her that I was veering away from tropical astrology, how it’s the colonizer’s astrology and that I’ve been identifying more with my sidereal birth chart.
“I’m a Pisces, my birthday is March 7...what would that make me in sidereal?”
“Oh, it would make you an Aquarius! How do you feel about that?”
“Hmmm, I’m gonna think about it.”
I told her about my family, the parks in New York that I frequent, how I’m studying numerology and had been seeing recurring numbers every day for two years. In the ensuing months, we’d get lunch together and indulge in our matcha addiction before work. She’d tell me about being frustrated with her partner’s incessant need to hold onto the past, I’d tell her about how relationships made me feel less free. She’d tell me about how she was bravely setting boundaries with her parents, I’d tell her about how I had been practicing NLP to overcome mommy issues. She’d tell me about her male friends that she wanted to set me up with, I’d laugh.
When she came over to my apartment in February, it was an unusually warm day and she asked me if I had ever gone on my fire escape. I hadn’t, so we climbed out my window and stood there, taking in the sun and looking down at the cars and people passing by below. She brought her sketchbook, and we colored the pages with oranges and reds and blues. At one point I picked up my phone, which in that moment read 3:33 pm. A few weeks later we went out the night before her birthday, danced for hours, went to her partner’s apartment, ordered food, and listened to music. It was getting late and my body was exhausted, so I called a Lyft. As I walked outside, the streetlight was shining on a car with a license plate that read 333. When I got back up to my apartment, I texted her that I got home safe and then went to bed. She responded “333 divine!” To my own surprise, I had sleepily sent that text at 3:33 am. The following evening on her birthday, we had a phone-free dinner at her apartment with her closest friends. At one point in the night, she went around the table and talked about what each person meant to her. Then she posed a question to all of us: “What is something that has been on your mind?” I talked about my relationship with numbers and the messages I receive from them. I talked about the number seven, how it’s about shadow work and that I had been seeing 777 a lot. It was teaching me that although I’ve dedicated time to uncovering my shadow and finding the source for every trigger, I had to get out of my own head and know that it’s okay to not know sometimes. Doing shadow work constantly was rooted in some form of learned punishment, and it’s safe for me to surrender and accept all that I am. Seven is Neptune, Pisces, yin, water, depths, truth. March 2020 was a universal 7 month, my best friend was born on March 7, and here I was sharing my deepest self, surrounded by the love and light of everyone at that table. I was remembering that we can grow through not only pain but also joy, and I left
that night feeling transformed. I decided to quit my job, and my last day was around the time quarantine/WFH started. Things in New York were getting scary and my family wanted me to come home to California. A few days before I left, I went to V’s apartment for wine and tarot. We read for each other and then read for ourselves, marveling at the divine accuracy of our intuition and our connection to Spirit. We discovered that she’s a life path 5, like me, and everything made even more sense. We spent seven hours that night, drunkenly talking about what this moment in time means for the future and what we can do to catalyze change in our lives and in the world. Time flew by like nothing before I realized how late it was, so I called a Lyft. When the app confirmed the car, I gasped and showed her my phone screen:
“Virginia!! The license plate! 333!”
I got home that morning at 3:33 am, filled with wine and pure love. My head was spinning and my heart was bursting. The number three represents expression, creativity, communication, children, art, authenticity, the voice/throat chakra, the intuition/sacral chakra, expansion, benevolence, and intention. Three is about surrendering to the flow, channeling emotions into art and play, and expressing one’s authentic self. The day we met, 10/14/2019, was the start of a new cycle of expansion. Meeting V has ushered in so much joy, love, and healing into my life. I’ve never related so deeply to anyone before, and I’ve never felt more understood. We are two people with different lives but similar patterns, themes, and moments of growth that have defined who we are today. She is the tropical Piscean artist whose creative energy is divinely in sync with the greater existence around us. If you were to scan a photo of her aura, it would be bursting with orange and purple and green. A heart so open the Universe brings her exactly what she wants, a mind so imaginative and beautiful, and a soul who has experienced this life before. And I can’t help but think I was there too, with her. Maybe in a different scenario, but still together somehow. We walk the path of five, the path of freedom and choice. My numerologist said the only person
who understands a five is another five. She was the vessel through which I was offered a new beginning, a chance to let go of the swords that I have no use for anymore so I could open my heart and stand tall enough to have the world in my hands. We don’t have to shrink ourselves around each other, nor do we have to pretend to be something else. There is no pretending because she is a mirror. We never have to play the role of therapist or life coach, and we never have to abandon ourselves in order to satisfy the other. We can just be. Time spent with her conditioned me into believing that there is no such thing as self-improvement; I am already powerful and I always have been. We anchor each other, we ground each other, and our energies coincide to create the light that carries us through this portal. She makes me feel less crazy for being a sensitive intuitive in a deeply chaotic and corrupt world. We inspire each other to envision a new world, a world in which everyone is taken care of and, more importantly, takes care of themselves. The bounty of love that flows between us continues to free us of all that has tried to bind us. This kinship is deeper than friendship. It feels like freedom. It is one of the most divinely orchestrated things I’ve experienced in my life. It’s what we prayed for. I envision us sitting at our altars at the edge of the water, our cups overflowing with gratitude for all that we’ve been through and have yet to experience. She is a living reminder for me that we’ve been through this before, so we are not really learning; we are remembering. We gaze at the expansive ocean in front of us and the moon glowing brightly above, our only two constants in lives filled with so much change. It’s safe here. A new world is arriving to meet us, and we are ready. A lot will change, we know because we are used to it. But we have a third constant now: a bond that energizes us, grows our creative spirits, and aligns us to newer and brighter possibilities. It is an immense blessing and an honor to share this lifetime with her while still being free to choose myself first. We are free and have always been free. The numbers know, God knows, and our souls are remembering.
Photos by Stacey Wong
The body rose this morning but left me behind. I stayed using the covers to ward off a chill I could not feel but knew for certain was approaching. I watched as it grew colder. It shivered, an attempt to shake it off, as it tried to work for the world— a battle it was sure to lose. And it did. I raised the white flag, and watched it float down to ensconce me, whole, into the safety of pillows and dreams. But the dreams don’t last. They push me back into the cold. My throat is dry, the cat sits by the food bowl, the blankets that had protected me are chained around my ankles. I rise, whole, pressing against the pressure of a world doomed to the cold. I look out the window, and watch all the warriors who have fought off the dread. I’ll find that fight in me soon. I always have before.
h t g i F by Laura King
Photo by Stacey Wong
Photo by Stacey Wong
Art by Lissa Deonarain
Kinship: A Quaran-Zine
Created by Lucie Pereira and Lissa Deonarain Cover art by Lissa Deonarain May 2020