I don't let go of Alex in my mind until a year passes.
Our deal keeps ringing around my mind. If I move back there within a year, then I might be able to have him back, there is a chance I could have him back. But Dad gets better and he likes living with Grandma and he gets a job locally. I join the local high school. Grandma's still a big help. Moving back just isn't an option anymore and as soon as I realise it's been a year since Alex and I made that deal, I let go of him and I feel okay about it. I just let him fade and I'm sure he let me fade a long time ago and that's okay.
I take a year out before I join college and I feel like that's the point where I find out what it's like to be truly, constantly happy. As a gift for my eighteenth birthday, Dad found me a flat and promised to pay my rent for a year. He said he wanted me to have the independence that I'd always yearned for without having to stress about the money side of things. He told me I can stress about the money side of things when I go to college.
I love living alone. It's just nice to do things the way I want to do them. I Skype and call and text all of my friends every single night. Johanna is at a stage college, learning about acting and music and she's going on a few dates and she's really enjoying it all. Carrie lives by herself as well and she got an internship in an office and is earning a fair amount of money which she is so happy about. Alice actually ended up getting a place in Leeds university where Jem goes, she's studying English literature. She tells me that she and Jem have been on a few dates but says that it'll probably go nowhere. I know her well enough to know that she's just telling herself that because she thinks he doesn't like her but when I speak to Jem over the phone, all he can talk about is Alice and how much he likes her. It makes me happy to see those two together. They are so perfectly matched.
Once the year is up, I move out of my apartment and across the country to start college and I love that even more. I study English literature as well, like Alice, and I really enjoy it. I remember when I thought I was content when I was in high school with Alex and my friends and I was I suppose, but not as happy as I am now. This is the kind of content I could be for the rest of my life.
Even my dorm building is nice, there aren't ever any loud parties or anything until a few months into me being there. Then there is one from the same room every single night. I hate to be a buzz kill, I really do, but when it gets to the point where I haven't slept for days, I have to try and put an end for it. I go over in my pyjamas one night and knock on the door. As soon as I see who opens it, I realise I guess I should have known all along.
"Kaya." Alex says, looking surprised.
"Hey." I say, surprised. "You go to college here."
"So do you." he says and then seems to shake himself out of a daze. "Do you, uh, wanna go for a drive?"
"Sure." I agree, not really sure what other choice I have.
We walk down into the parking lot and I realise I'm still in my pyjamas but that's the least of my worries. I am so confused. I have been at this college for three months, how did I not realise Alex lived down the hall from me? And I thought I'd moved on from him but having him this close again, I'm feeling everything all over again. And I'm also confused because am I really feeling all of those things or is it just nostalgia or something? But glancing over at him as he drives along, I can see he's different. His hair is a little longer, he's got a little stubble and he's more muscular now than before. He just seems more mature and that's okay because I'm sure he can see the same change in me.
He is the same person, but different at the same time and I know that I still love him and that it's not just nostalgia. You don't see someone for the first time in two years and still love them because of nostalgia. What I'm feeling is real. I just don't know what to do about it.
"I can't believe I didn't know you lived down the hall from me." I say, still bewildered. It's not at all awkward between us which is strange but I'm relieved about it.
He laughs. "I can't believe I didn't know either. So did you take a year out before you started?"
I nod. "Yeah. I just lived by myself, kind of took a break from everything, you know?"
He nods, smiling. "That sounds very you, Kaya."
I laugh. "So what did you do?"
"Traveled." he says, grinning. "Everywhere. It was great."
I smile. "Of course you did. What else would you do?"
He laughs. "True, true."
"So, that party seemed a little small for you." I say and then frown. "Why are you even living in the student accommodation anyway? Why wouldn't you get your own place?"
He shrugs. "I didn't want to be the rich guy again."
I nod. "Understood."
"So do you remember our deal?" he says, out of the blue.
I pause, a little stunned. "Yes. Yeah, I do."
"I know you didn't move back, but if you had moved back within a year, would we have still gotten back together?" he glances at me. "Or did you move on?"
"I didn't move on." I shake my head. "I figured you did."
"I didn't either."
We're both quiet for a minute and then I sigh. "Alex, I don't really know what you're trying to say."
"Yes you do." he protests, the corners of his mouth quirked upwards. "You know exactly what I'm trying to say but you're putting off acknowledging it."
"No I'm not."
"Yes you are." he insists. "And I know that because I know you really well. And I love you, by the way. So it makes sense that we just get back together."
I sigh, exasperated. "Alex, that's a really quick decision to be made."
"There's no reason it shouldn't be a quick decision." he shrugs, glancing at the road and then back at me, a smile still on his face. "You just get really nervous and stressed about things for no good reason and that's why you're saying no to me right now because you think us getting together just like that is way too easy and you think that means that it's all going to go horribly wrong."
"Fine." I say, crossing my arms. "Yes."
"And you are willing to just-" he stops, looking at me, his eyes narrowed slightly. "Wait, did you just say yes?"
"I just said yes." I nod.
He grins, pulling over on the side of the road and kissing me. I smile and kiss him back. I guess all along, something about us was the same. I never quite figured out what that similarity was. I guess it's nothing about our personalities, it's not that we equal each other out, we just click somehow and that's important. You can have everything in common but that doesn't mean you'll fall in love. Something about Alex and I just works. I love him and he loves me. I'll never be able to explain it but maybe that's a good thing.
Some of the best things are indescribable.