Several months ago, Julie and I, moms from different parts of the country with very different political leanings, different parenting styles, and different personalities found each other through a feisty little environmental movement called ecomodernism – an optimistic outlook that celebrates humanity, embraces modernity, and reveres nature. What we found is that, while we may have different motivations and beliefs, we ultimately have similar hopes for the world our children will inherit – a world without hunger, a world with clean air, and a world with far less suffering.
That’s the background – so let’s get to the funny stuff. If it wouldn’t cause Julie to jam forks in her ears, I could write a great strummy guitar song about peace and love and finding a third way. Because we have y’all, we’ve totally got a 3rd way politically if everyone would just get on board. It involves a lot of wine and a lot of laughing at differences though because the differences are hysterical.
A Conservative and a Liberal Go for a Walk
Julie: So, where are we going?
Amy: I don’t know. Let’s just walk.
Amy: We could get something to eat?
Amy: I don’t know. We’ll find something.
Julie: *Eyes dart around for restaurant. Looks at watch.*
Amy: What a beautiful church.
Julie: *Glances up. Nods politely. Looks at phone*
Amy: Should we take the subway?
Julie: You’re joking, right?
Amy: *Yammers about art museums*
Julie: I hate fucking art.
A Conservative and a Liberal Eat Dinner
Amy: I feel kind of guilty about eating at the Waldorf.
Amy: I don’t know. Spending money. We could have helped people or something.
Julie: We “helped” the cab driver today and we’re “helping” the bartender right now. *Orders dirty martini and makes trickle-down hand motions*
Amy: Yes, but…. *Struggles with empty ketchup bottle*
Julie: What are you doing? *Narrows eyes* You feel guilty about wasting fucking ketchup, don’t you?
Amy: *Feels guilty about feeling guilty. Orders French Martini*
Julie: I hate fucking ketchup.
A Conservative and a Liberal Ride in a Cab
Julie: *Sits on edge of seat*
Amy: *Chills in the corner*
Julie: It didn’t take us this long to get here. Why is it taking so long to get back?
Amy: I love it here.
Julie: I think this guy is ripping us off.
Amy: The Christmas lights are so pretty.
Julie: This is taking forever. Are you even fucking alive over there?
A Conservative and a Liberal Make a Book Outline
Amy: Let’s write a book.
Julie: Nobody reads.
Julie: *Sighs* Fine. Let’s make an outline. *Pulls out Waldorf stationery*
Amy: We can talk about clean energy, moms changing the world, hungry children *Cries*
Julie: Okay, fine. People read. *Writes on Waldorf stationery: Nobody will read this fucking book.*
Julie: Buck up, Buttercup. We’re doing a podcast and funny videos.
Amy: *Schedules facelift. Feels guilty*
A Conservative and a Liberal Go to the Natural History Museum
Julie: Fuck this. I’ll meet you later.
Amy: *Wanders around Biodiversity Hall. Cries about climate change*
This is the way our trip to New York City and our first in-person meeting went. Julie is a racehorse – a high-energy thoroughbred, ready to bolt from the field when she’s bored or irritated. I’m the mellow goat, munching on grass, bleating random thoughts. Like goats and horses, it’s weird but it works. The goat chills the horse out and the horse makes the goat stop wasting time on eating rocks. I make Julie slow down and she kicks my ass into action mode.
If Julie and I can laugh for 2 straight days and if goats and horses can be best friends, maybe there’s hope for the rest of the world. We found that it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t think climate change is an urgent issue – we both want clean air. We both think nature is worth saving. (The furry animals for Julie’s fur-trimmed sweaters need a place to live too.) And children everywhere deserve heathy food and access to modern healthcare.
These are things all moms, all people, can agree on so maybe there’s a 3rd way where we celebrate and laugh and drink to our differences. (I know Julie is laughing at this and making tiny violin motions.)
Julie’s Version of Events….
“I’m meeting a friend I met on Twitter.”
Yes, those words actually came out of my mouth. I felt slightly embarrassed confessing this to the friendly Irish bartender at the Waldorf as I waited for Amy to arrive He had the same reaction I would’ve had a few months ago….”oh wow, that’s great, how fun”…as he backed away and desperately looked for another guest to serve. I’m sure up until that point he thought I was a perfectly normal person.
But I didn’t care. I was really excited to meet Amy; since partnering up with her on several writing projects over the last few months, we have communicated nearly every day. It’s weird to develop a bond with someone you’ve never met, especially someone who still believes in manmade climate change. And it’s not as if either one of us needs friends, like we’re two lonely girls working on adult coloring books at night. By all accounts, we have very full lives with busy husbands, active kids and a debauched social circle.
So how did the suburban Chicago conservative mom and the liberal Southern beach bum mom hit it off? Just as well as I thought we would. Amy is tall, thin and pretty just as I expected. Yet her demeanor is much softer than her writing. You’d think someone who can use profanity like a blowtorch in her blog posts would have a certain edge, but there is none. She’s a little more introverted and soft-spoken than I thought she’d be. There is an easygoingness about her that I admire but could never replicate. She’s open to anything, a pleaser at heart, so she’s a good foil for a control freak like me.
We found plenty in common as we shared our life story and journey from working women to stay-at-home moms. We even like the same food – we split tuna tartare and a cheeseburger the first dinner then raw oysters and separate cheeseburgers the next night. We found humor in a lot of the same things.
But then, yes, the differences. I don’t have catchy titles for my snippets, so I’ll just throw these out at random (see, Amy did have an influence on me).
Amy: When you go to that meeting, I’m going to go to the Natural History Museum.
Amy: There’s a climate change exhibit I want to see.
Julie: Have some more Kool-Aid.
Amy later bummed exhibit was closed so she looked at some dead animals in Biodiversity Hall.
Amy: *Babbles about museum’s evolution room*
Amy: Are you like…a Creationist? *eyes well up*
Julie: I’m not really sure. Maybe a mix of both. I want to cover my bases.
Amy: So when you see all the skulls that show the progression of evolution….?
Julie: All I know is that I’m here now so who fucking cares? *orders Whistlepig scotch*
Amy: *dries eyes. orders rose champagne*
Amy: Why do people keep talking to me about mountains?
Julie: Because you have a picture of mountains on your blog.
Amy: It came with the free template. I’m not that into mountains.
Julie: Wait, you’re the save-the-planet freak and you don’t care about mountains?
Amy: Well, to ski on and then look at from the hot tub afterwards. But we aren’t skiing this year, we are going on a tropical vacation with friends who all snorkel. But I’m not snorkeling.
Amy: No way am I getting in that fucking water. I hate fish.
Julie: So much for loving nature.
Amy: I don’t want anyone to think I don’t love nature.
Julie: Who fucking cares what people think?
Julie: *sees UN, rolls eyes*
Amy: *sees banner for UN Sustainable Development Goals – seal claps*
Amy: I wrote an article about those goals. Nobody read it. *cries*
Julie: That stupid banner probably cost $100,000 but let’s take a picture. It’ll be funny. You can give a thumbs up and I’ll do the middle finger.
Amy: No, I don’t want to bother the cabdriver to pull over.
Julie: He’s fine. We’ll pay for his time. We don’t take the photo.
Obviously, we took a little creative license here. I’m not nearly as wretched as this seems and Amy is not nearly as weak and weepy. Our temperament is as different as our political leanings. But we’ve found a way to transcend that and develop a true relationship to work – and have fun – together. At the end of the day, our goal is the same: to promote modernity as a way to address some of the world’s most dire problems. And to fuck with a few organic executives (ok, that’s just me. Amy doesn’t like to fight.)
Our biggest challenge will be to get people – moms – to listen. There’s a lot of unfounded fear out there that’s getting in the way of progress and providing aid to those who really need it. If anyone has ideas about the best way to do this in 2016, please let us know. Amy will listen intently and I will think of how much better my idea is.