Chamizal National Memorial and “Persons in Between”
Welcome to Manuscript Monday!
Tomorrow, February 4th, will be 40 years since Chamizal become part of the National Park Service (although it wasn’t until 1966 that it became Chamizal National Memorial). The once-disputed boundary lands of El Paso in the United States and Juarez, in Mexico now contain a peace memorial thanks to a treaty finalized in 1963.
In reading about the history of Chamizal, I came across a beautiful research article by Jeffrey M. Schulze, entitled “The Chamizal Blues: El Paso, the Wayward River, and the Peoples in Between.” I gained access to the full article and was engaged in learning about the fluctuating boundary of the Rio Grande River, and what became of those “persons in between” who were required to relocate once the peace treaty was finalized.
My own stop at The Chamizal Memorial, in 2010, was part of a cross country road trip I made with our dog, Baxter, and formed one of the later chapters in my manuscript. The chapter does not focus on the memorial but parallels the entire trip with earlier memories. It also doesn’t mention that I accidentally got in line to cross the border into Mexico before figuring out where to exit for Chamizal.
But there is never only one outlet for everything we learn in and about a given place. After reading Schulze’s article, I also began a new essay about land, displacement and identity. I’m currently reading about South African land history and a novel about an African Farm, and it’s impossible to learn anything new without applying what I’ve learned elsewhere, as well as my own history and understanding. I think that’s why essays might be my favorite work to read and write. I love personal narrative drawn from multiple sources of inspiration. The most difficult part (for me) is settling my frantic brain down enough to focus on one of the many things I want to write and get it finished to where I’m satisfied before moving on.
Speaking of focus, it’s time to get back to this offline work of mine. I hope this Monday finds you at the beginning of a productive and low-stress week.