The 10-Year-Old Love Guru

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In elementary school, I appropriately nicknamed myself Cupid (It’s okay to nickname yourself, right? Shh, stop. That was rhetorical). At only ten years of age, I was so consumed with the idea of love; rocking my spiral notebook full of little pink and red hearts and the names of my various crushes. Boys never had cooties in my mind. In fact, I used to say that boys were just cuties. Cuties…cooties…get it? I was a regular stand up comedian. A joke telling Cupid. My parents were surely beaming with pride at Back to School Night when my teachers regaled them with stories of my glorious jokes that distracted the rest of the class.

While my peers were up prank phone calling, nearly overdosing on Pixie sticks, and practicing the earliest form of flirting, TPing, I stayed up late watching Nora Ephron films. Hell, Tom might have been sleepless in Seattle, but I was wide-awake in Suburbia dreaming of the day I’d be old enough to kiss someone. I was lonely before I even knew what lonely was. I just wanted to be in love.

But in what became a glimpse into my future, I decided my time would be better spent helping others instead of searching for my own 5th grade Prince Charming. A few glitter glue-sticks, giant neon poster board, a little too much enthusiasm, and BAM, Eastman’s Match-Making Service was born: Helping you find your own Man of the East since 2002…I was in the dating service business, not advertising, okay?!

I’d have my clients tell me all about the object of their affection. We’d dig deep into personality traits, eccentric quirks, analyze what EXACTLY it meant that he let them borrow his pencil and never asked for it back. I gave insightful advice:  “Ah, so you like Sam? Sam’s nice. He likes baseball. You should talk to him about baseball.” I never asked for anything in return. I wanted to share my romantic expertise with those who needed it. And you know what they say, those who can’t do, teach. And boy, I taught my little heart out. I had five happy couples under my belt before even entering middle school.

And now, here I am, 21-years old, two serious relationships, a fling or two here and there, and a bed far too big for my 5’3’’ frame. Somewhere along the way, perhaps when my innocence died in the back of a car one winter night, I stopped prioritizing romantic love. How did I yearn for something so much as a child only to stop craving it as an adult? The nights I spent fantasizing about having someone hold me are now replaced with solitary walks, driving all night, and loving every moment of silence. I have stopped doodling cartoon hearts, and though it could be seen as part of growing up, I’m afraid it’s just me shutting down.

That is, until you. Until you came along, I thought I was done feeling. I had come to terms with this blank numbness. I could meet a thousand people, but they blended perfectly into a sea of distance. A sea I didn’t care to swim in. I watched from the shore, and as the tide came in, I retreated further. But I want to swim in you. Even if you don’t want me, thank you for reminding me of my Cupid tendencies, and that maybe it’s okay to want someone to shoot an arrow at me. There’s a hopeless romantic buried inside and maybe for tonight, I’ll let her out and tear down these walls I’ve built so high. And together, we’ll watch You’ve Got MailTC Mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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