With the voucher for her Dad’s flying lessons safely tucked into her shoulder bag, Ella drove out of the small airfield and made her back to the motorway.
Although she was still angry with Sophie for expecting her drive down to Kent on her day off but with the sun shining and Steve Wright’s Sunday love songs on the radio she had to grudgingly admit that she had enjoyed the drive down to the airfield. It’d made a nice change to have something other than work to think about.
The last few months in work had been frantic. With the all the government cut backs everybody was now responsible for twice as many clients as they were a year ago. There just wasn't enough hours in the day to get all the work done. During the week she was spending so long out of the office on casework that she was spending her precious weekends just catching up with all the paperwork.
Ella hadn't been naive. She knew that being a Social Worker in London would be demanding but she'd be the first to admit that coming straight from University in Bristol to full time work in London, had been a shock to the system. Ella had been thrilled when after graduating from Bristol she had found a job straight away. A lot of her friends had taken months to get their first placement. She knew that she was lucky but it didn't stop her from feeling tired.
What I need, she thought, is a holiday. Maybe while I’m in Spain I could hire a car and take off for a few days after the party. I probably just need a break, let's face it I don’t even go out of an evening after work any more. My last night out must have been about two months ago and that was with my Dad. The problem is every thing is just so expensive in London. By the time I’ve paid my rent and filled the car with petrol, I don’t have a lot left over.
It was at times like this that Ella wondered to herself how different her life would have been if she had still been with Jake. They had met in their first year at University and in the hot house atmosphere of Halls their relationship had quickly blossomed. When for their second year they had to look accommodation off campus, it had seemed the most natural thing in the world to move in together.
Their parents had naturally worried that they were getting too serious too quickly, but Ella and Jake weren't worried, after all they were in love, what could possibly go wrong.
Ella looked back now to those days with fondness and a certain longing for the feeling of contentment that only young love can bring. The fact that they were permanently broke didn’t worry them; all their friends were in the same boat. Their pleasures were simple, a walk in the park on a sunny Autumn morning, a bottle of cheap wine shared with friends by the river in the summer and curling up on the tatty rug by their two bar electric fire on a cold winter’s night.
Jake’s business degree had meant that he had to spend a year in Industry. Ella knew now that she had been fooling herself when she thought that he would look for a placement in Bristol. Jake had set his sights at the top and when he had been offered a year with a big American accountancy firm in New York, he had jumped at the chance.
The bright lights of the Big Apple soon made Jake realise what he wanted from life. Money and power were a lot more exciting than a draughty flat in St Pauls. His emails to Ella became less frequent as the months went by, his work was his priority now, he explained. Ella had met him at Heathrow Airport when he had flown back for the Christmas holidays knowing in her heart of hearts that they were over.
The drive back to Bristol had been awkward, neither of them wanting to admit the obvious, that after only three months apart they had very little left in common.
The atmosphere in the flat over the Christmas and New Year holiday had been strained and it was with a sense of relief on both their parts that they had agreed to split up.
Now three years later Ella still had the occasional email from Jake. After graduating he had returned to a full time position with the American company. He had found a room to rent in a colleague’s apartment in Queens and was now dating a very glamorous girl that he had met at work. Ella was happy for him, she wished him well with a life that she knew was not for her. There was no way that she could have been happy being a corporate flunky.
But occasionally, just now and again, she wondered what her life would have been like if he had been prepared to change direction and look for work in England, instead of moving over to America. They could have had a good life together, she thought, or was that just wishful thinking?
Who am I trying to kid, she thought to herself, Jake would never have put up with having a poorly paid Social Worker for a girlfriend.
‘Love me, love my job’, she laughed to herself as she drove down her street looking for the illusive parking space outside her block of flats.