[Back dated to 16th February 2011]
Simon sets a cup of coffee down on the table and takes a seat in the chair beside John. His lover had been dinking around on the computer the better part of the afternoon. “So what are you looking at? Porn or music?” he asks, leaning his elbow on the table.
“Houses,” John smiles turning to Simon. “And checking out surrogacy agencies, just to see what that entails,” He’s got a pad beside him, full of scribbled notes. “I was saving the porn for later.”
“Huh. Well I guess you should still show me the houses...we’ll get to the porn,” he smiles, motioning to the computer. “Where are you looking? I was thinking near the girls would be good,” he offers.
“Well near London is a given,” John nods, “but I was thinking not in London,” he clicks back a few pages and shows Simon a house. “We’ve done dodgy student bedsits, we’ve done batchelor pads in penthouses, we’ve done designer beach side house, I thought something a little more... traditional might be cool?”
Simon makes a grunt that sounds more like caution than agreement. “How traditional?”
“Um, Old traditional,” John turns the computer so Simon can see the Manor house he’s been eyeing up.
He reads the description, eyebrows moving north. “A stable?” He looks at John who looks like a little kid waiting to see if he got a pony on Christmas. “Johnny, what would we do with a stable?” he asks with a chuckle.
“Well, put horses in it? Or turn it into a studio?” John suggests, grinning back. “Oh come on, wouldn’t it be amazing? A manor house? All that land? The peace?”
He rubs his chin, watching John flip through several pictures. “Yeah, peace is good. And land. £4 million? That’s a heck of a lot of peace.”
“We won’t pay that, the market is subdued for that kind of property, even that close to London. I’ve been doing my homework, we can get it for a good chuck less,” John scoots through some more pages, “There is this Georgian place, I’m less keen, it is closer, but has no pool,”
“If we’re gonna spend that, should we maybe look in London too? I know there wouldn't be a stable or anything but there would be...London..."
“£4 million in London isn’t gonna get us what we’re used to,” John shakes his head. “We’d have to compromise on something, loose the pool, loose at least three bedrooms, loose all that space and our privacy levels will not what we’ve gotten used to.”
He has to admit that John has a point. Their beach house is far more secluded than anything they’d ever find actually in London, but that’s partly the point of living in the city. “If we sell this place,” he says, meaning their LA home. One glance at John’s face tells him his lover doesn’t like that idea one bit. “Show me the Georgian place again,” he answers, waving at the screen.
A couple of clicks has the Georgian property back up. “I’m not so keen,” John admits. He has a couple of others up his sleeve.
“Yeah...too formal.” Simon agrees. He still is trying to picture them living in the country. “What else?” he asks, taking another sip and reaching for John’s notepad. “Wait, what is this one? Five rooms, studio...art or music?”
“Music,” John would always put music before art. It is after all the thing that bought them together. “Five bedrooms isn’t enough though, not if we’re,” he pauses his face breaking into a grin, “having a family.”
He reaches a hand up, smiling as he presses the back of John’s head. “Next then,” he agrees. “Oh, pond...big enough for a small boat do you think?”
“Pond? Small child? And no, not big enough for a boat,” John shakes his head with a laugh. “I reckon we need at least 7 or 8 rooms or some separate accommodation, to cover everything.”
Simon makes a face but relents, finger drifting down the page. “Don’t forget, the girls are old enough that they would do fine in their own accommodation. I think we need five inside and a double guest house maybe? What’s this one? You’ve circled it five times.”
“I thought it might be too small,” John laughs as he types in the web address and pulls up one house he really liked. “Five beds, but has a separate barn conversion.”
“I don’t hate it,’ Simon nods, leaning to squint at the picture. “How far away from civili...London?”
“An hour, not much more,” John’s surprised that Simon likes it. “I thought one large house would be better than two or three smaller buildings but if you think it’ll work?” He says thoughtfully.
"I don't see why not. It might be better, yeah? Keep a studio separate from the rest of the house? Give the girls their freedom? Shit, is that five bays in the garage?"
“Okay!” John nods, “I can see that working,” he clicks on the image for the garage. “Yep, will five be enough once we’ve added a family car?” he teases.
He cuts a scathing look at John. “Watch it, Taylor," he smirks. “Or I’ll move into the guest house and leave you with the 2 AM watch,” he teases.
“What?!” John laughs, “Hey I can cut down on the cars, can you?” He shoves his empty cup in Simon’s direction, the cooking might be his turf, drinks are Simon’s. “Tea please,” he smiles sweetly.
He grunts and takes the mug, sliding his chair noisily back. “OK, fine. So we have a few to look at. Can you set up appointments for our trip?” he asks, making his way to the kitchen. “And what did you find about the surrogacy?”
“It’s a bloody minefield,” John calls back. “There are all sorts of horror stories about women changing their minds.” He waits for Simon to reappear. “I’m making some enquiries, basically we can afford the best solicitor and the best agency and it seems in the case that’ll make all the difference.”
He hadn’t thought about the problem of the mother changing their mind. He honestly can’t imagine them holding a woman to giving up a child they’ve changed their mind about giving up. He can’t fathom it. “Do you,” he clears his throat, sitting down beside John. “Do you think we should maybe...find someone who’s done it before? Given a child up? So we know that they’re...able?”
“Well, it’s something we have to look at,” John nods, “Look these agencies do all kinds of screening on these women, psychological stuff, counselling, in fact we’d have to go through a similar process. If we put an ad in a paper and picked a woman that way? Yeah our chances of it all going wrong are high, like this? It’s like a 95% certainty.”
“So an agency. Do we know anyone who’s done this?” he asks, sitting back in his chair.
“It seems most people who have this kind of cash come here to the States, but like you, I want this done at home,” John sighs. “I have a couple of agencies bookmarked, I think the best move is to find a relevant solicitor and then ask their advice.”
He chews that over for a minute, frowning and staring out the window. “Why do they come here, do you think?” he asks finally, turning back to John.
“Choice,” John replies. “Here there is more choice, there is a much larger pool of women who are prepared to do this, and there is a much wider cultural mix,” He turns in his chair to Simon. “I’d still prefer to do this back home, even if it takes longer to find the right woman.”
Simon nods. “I do too,” he tells him, resting a hand on John’s arm. “We have a week before the tickets I booked, is that enough time to make some appointments?” he asks, motioning to the sheet of names and attorneys.
“Yeah, I’ve got two solicitors to call to book appointments with, they both deal with this type of thing and we can take it from there,” he smiles slowly. “We’re really, really doing this aren’t we?”
“I think we are,” Simon agrees, reaching up on impulse to touch John’s cheek. “Happy?” he asks, even though his lover’s face shows very clearly that he is.
“Yeah, but I keep thinking that I’m gonna wake up,” John admits, “This is so far from where I thought we’d be...” he shakes his head. “It’s still sinking in.”
“You know, we have really just sorta...decided, haven’t we?” Simon nods, leaning back in his chair, John’s hand locked in his as he looks out toward the setting sun. “I know we know what we want and all but...is it too quick? Should we think it over a while longer?”
John mulls that over for a moment, his thumb brushing back and forth over the back of Simon’s hand. “If we know it’s right why wait? There is a whole process to go through, we can stop at any point, up to a point,” John grins at that. “It’s going to be months before we have to commit
“See, I sorta feel like the minute we get on that plane, we’re committed. Our home has been here for so long...going back to England now isn’t something I would have done otherwise.” He puts a hand up, staying John’s response. “Don’t get me wrong, I love England and I do miss it but I love what we’ve built here too. On some level, I’m going to miss it.”
“Look, we go back, we look around, we talk to some solicitors and then come back, we can make our minds up then, when we have information and we’ve actually seen things for ourselves,” John adds. “At the worst we’ve had two weeks back in England, at best we’ve armed ourselves with the information we need to proceed.”
“Yeah,” Simon nods, his fingers tightening on John’s. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m just...” he gives a short laugh, glancing sideways at John. “I guess I’m nervous,” he admits; a feeling he rarely feels anymore more. “I think that’s good, yeah?”
“I think that’s natural, healthy and normal,” John nods, “I hope so anyway because I have butterflies every damned time I think about any of this,” he laughs.
“Come on,” Simon says, leaning in to John again and nodding at the the phone. “Let’s call the girls, tell them we’re coming to visit.”