Love Story

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It boasts one busy road named Speedway, another named Congress, and a mall in the foothills called La Encantada where you went when your iPhone was broken. The song could be heard at all hours near campus, pulsing from the broad verandas of the frat houses at night and heralding each class change on the artificially green quad. Most of my memories of Tucson take place at night, when the western sky had just ceased its color show and hundreds of stars were condensing into sight above for astronomical purposes, Tucson has very strict rules about light pollution.

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Our courtship also took place in the quasi-dark. We met often at a video rental palace that had managed to outlive Blockbuster by carrying hard-to-find films from niche international directors. Most of the movies I chose came from China, where my parents were born. I was contemplating moving there after graduation, and screening these films with Liam was my arty way of inviting him along.

The second city is Chengdu, which was built on a wide and fertile plain. If our first city looked like a grid when viewed from above, our second looked like a series of concentric circles, each called a ring road.

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Because this was China, we often had to love each other through our face masks the air quality was quite poor that year , which is to say we loved each other in unfair weather, in a city where the sun rarely shone. The differences between us also grew more apparent. Liam had never been outside the U. I had chosen a place far away and he had met me there, exporting himself into my geographically bipolar life. My desire for a Ph. D brought us here, and will hold me glued to this place for years to come.

Once more, we live by a university, listening to the songs which carry across the quad. Every weekday, I walk in one direction to class, and Liam drives in the other for work. But a few months from now, Liam will get on a plane and I will not. I helped him find this exit: He wanted to move abroad again, so I edited all his application materials for the Peace Corps and celebrated with him when he received a posting to Nepal.

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There was no question about whether or not he was going. Now that the abstract idea of his departure has a name—Nepal—and even a date—January —attached to it, I have a lot of questions, none of which should surprise anyone who has stared down the barrel of a long-distance romance.

Should we stay together? Should we break up? Should we stay together but quietly sleep with other people?

Should we sleep with other people but tell each other all about it, giggling on the phone in our separate time zones? He will learn to inhabit the place he is going in intimate ways only he can know, and I will stay here, buried beneath my books, surveying our past cartographies. Peake, 45, has been open in interviews about her own attempts at IVF and her ambivalence about motherhood she went through three rounds before deciding to stop. Driving the action forward are medical procedures: not least, the sheer physicality of IVF.

On a mostly exposed, stripped stage, Peake, with words alone, conjures up the messy reality of hormones. How she feels her stomach bloat as she is filled with eggs. How she spreads her legs for examinations. The injections she gives herself. Subtly woven through the play are pressing questions: why does Leigh want to become a mother so badly? Can she even juggle her creative life with that of a child?


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Then there is the cost of the fertility industry in peddling dreams. Leigh is willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to freeze her eggs and to undergo treatment. Conversely, there is an unsaid fear that her desperation — especially in the face of an ageing body and increasingly low odds — is funding the lives of others. That the more she spends, the more her doctors benefit one, she notices, drives a Bentley. Then there is the whiff that such desperation is selfish: why does the world need another child? Why does the child need to be hers?

Australian director Anne-Louise Sarks lets Peake shine, unhindered on the whole, by distractions.

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That said, there are missteps. A boy and a girl periodically turn up on stage, running across the set or playing with a dollhouse. They represent the ghosts of lives never lived, but their presence is clunky, awkward even, and the message heavy-handed. At one point, late in the play, Woman finally poses the question she should have asked all along but perhaps never wanted to.

How many women of her age, 44, from this particular clinic have given birth to a healthy baby after IVF? The answer is stark: 2. Towards the end of her quest, she realises there are very few miracles.

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