12 Invisible Signs of Love

Sometimes we have to look for love...not from strangers but from the people already around us, the ones who show it in unexpected, wonderful but slightly weird ways.

Sign #1: Your annoying talking pumpkin-head key chain shows up in their junk drawer.

Or your broken pen or ancient bowling scorecard. None of these are items that anybody in their right mind would covet. But they are things that indicate that the person enjoys thinking of you while looking for the Scotch tape. Or that they're doing something that's only possible when somebody deeply adores you: They're keeping your garbage around their nice clean house because they think that you might think it's not garbage at all, and they're waiting for that moment to hand it over to you and for you to go, "My talking pumpkin-head key chain!!! I thought I lost it!" At which point, they will get the huge hug from you that justifies the past few months of listening to that eerie electronic pumpkin voice go, "Smash me, sucker!" every time they shut the junk drawer a little too hard.

Sign #2: Their mom knows your birthday.

No, you have never met her. Yes, they talk about you that much.

Sign #3: They never get so busy that they can't give you the "Awesome!" Or the "Shut up!"

Or the "Hilarious!" Or the "I'm trying to work here!" In other words, they reply to every truly dumb email, text or tweet you send their way...including the one with a cat in a shark suit chasing a little duckling while riding a Roomba.

Sign #4: You look good in the badly focused photo in the too-dark room.

Because they took the picture, and pictures taken with love are so much more flattering.

Sign #5: They feel the need to tell you how to put on a seatbelt.

Or to inform you it's not okay to eat just the head and not the stem of the broccoli. Sadly, they did not get the memo that every other adult in the universe got, the one that explains that bossing around a busy grown-up woman is not the way to get attention. Unless the busy grown-up woman stops and thinks about what is really going on—which is love.

Sign #6: You never complain about the freezing house (out loud) because you too want to save on the heating bill.

But you do get so cold sometimes that your fingers stiffen, leading you to drop and break juice glasses and send garbled, misspelled texts from your smartphone, like: Pring home ilk! Beeeee xxc.. Which is why striding into the house on December 22, the darkest night of the year, and hitting that wall of warmth created only when the thermostat is set to 70 is such an overwhelming gesture of tenderness. So much so that it may inspire you to buy fingerless gloves and set it back to 62 for week.