This month, High Country News features personal essays by Emily Guerin ’09 and Walter Wuthmann ’14.
Wuthmann’s essay won the magazine’s annual student essay contest. To answer the High Country News’ essay prompt, “How I Became a Westerner,” Wuthmann writes, “It took going East for me to understand my home in the West.”
Wuthmann, who grew up in San Francisco and is majoring in English and environmental studies at Bowdoin, describes in his winning essay, “The View from the East,” how he acclimated to Maine and started thinking of his home in a new way.
While he missed the West’s high mountains, sheer granite gorges and “frothing, shark-infested boil” of the coast, Wuthmann writes, he also at Bowdoin began to dismantle his notions of the so-called wild areas of the West. “The great distance, my education and my growing homesickness complicated my old assumptions, bringing nuance into previously concrete associations like ‘home,’ ‘preservation,’ and ‘wilderness’,” he writes.
Despite seeing some of his romanticism slip away, Wuthmann writes that he will return home after college to play his “part in the increasingly complex human-land narrative that shapes our beloved natural spaces.”
In her essay, “That familiar loneliness,” Emily Guerin ’09 describes the parallels she sees between her stints living with her boyfriend in isolated areas and the experiences of Susan Ward, the protagonist of Wallace Stegner’s novel, Angle of Repose. Ward, a refined, educated Easterner, follows her husband around western America, talking “herself into living in remote places,” Guerin writes, and consequently suffers from a rootless loneliness.
Guerin is an editorial intern at High Country News, based in Paonia, Co. Originally from Maine, Guerin formally was a reporter for The Forecaster newspaper, in Brunswick, and has also worked as a freelance radio reporter, wilderness trip leader and environmental educator.