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 #7: They are under five, they are over two and they jump out from behind doors to surprise you and cause you to scream, slip and fall on a left-out Lego.

Sign #8: They are under five, they are over two and when they ask why you're not married and you explain, they say, "Huh. If I were grown-up, I'd marry you.

Sign #9: They treat you like a business client.

After lunch, there is no hugging or "Let's do this next week!" They pull out their smartphone, whip open the calendar and nail you down to a specific time and day.

Sign #10: You feel wittier and suddenly charismatic with them.

Because they are laughing at all your jokes and everything else you say. Which, when you think about it, is like throwing love tinsel all over your every word.

Sign #11: You're watching The Lorax with your husband, your two kids and your parents who are visiting for the weekend...

Just as Ted discovers that there's a barren, blasted land beyond the town walls, your dad gets up and leaves the theater. When he returns, he leans back in his chair, tilts his head back and appears to be taking a nap through the rest of the movie. When the lights go on, all becomes clear. Your dad is holding a Kleenex over his nose. He has a massive nosebleed and has been holding it for the past hour. "Why didn't you tell us?" you say, horrified. "I wanted you guys to get to finish the movie. The kids were so excited," he says. The whole family returns the affection by going with him to the emergency room.

Sign #12: You like Tootsie Pops, it's true—who doesn't? But someone has sent you a huge padded envelope stuffed with them.

The candies are not the point, of course. It's the wrappers. And whoever has done this understands that perfectly. In fact, whoever has done this got on her knees on the dirty floors of pharmacies and supermarkets all over town, the better to paw through the boxes of Tootsie Pops by the checkout counter and examine the intricate folds of the waxed-paper coverings and select only those that have stars on them (which means, by extension, the ones with the little boy in an Indian headdress holding a bow and arrow). You sigh. You're thinking that your aunt who went to all this effort still doesn't know that the company does NOT give out one free pop for every 10 wrappers. are wrong. She already knows that! She's sending the feeling behind the false urban legend, the joy of finding a special extra lucky thing and feeling as if you're special and extra lucky because of it—even if no tenable, official luck actually exists. Which means she loves you, in her own quirky, obscure, takes-too-long-to-explain way. Which is how so very many of us love.