Whitecaps roll in. I watch as they collide and break, spreading white foam in arcs that bubble and pop before vanishing along the shore. The wind lifts my hair in a dance, tangling the brunette locks I am forever tucking behind my ears. The last weekend of the summer has ended, and aside from a handful of seagull’s overhead, the coastline is uninhabited. I shove my feet deeper into the cool blanket of sand, close my eyes; inhale. And that’s when it hits me… I’m in love! Wait a minute. Rewind. What did she say? She’s in love? You know, this narrative was heading in a good direction before she threw in that bizarre announcement. But alas, it is true. I fell in love on an abandoned beach in Montauk. And trust me when I say, I was just as surprised as you. My eyes had opened (literally). The light bulb swayed above my head (figuratively). I rose to my feet and started to trek across the beach. I’m in love? Seriously? It must have been those poems I wrote earlier that did it… Wow! I never expected love to feel so peaceful. Actually, I never really imagined how love would be at all. Wasn’t that just something that happened in movies? A log, warped by the surf, appeared farther ashore. I meandered toward it and sat. My inner dialogue unfurled ahead of me. A year had passed together as friends. During this time, the extent of my sentiments had gone completely unrecognized. It seemed almost outlandish that love should strike now. I decided I wasn’t able to fully accept its place in my world without a divine symbol to confirm its truth. A pine cone spun gently in the frothing waves and landed at my feet. I bent down to pick it up, finding it peculiar that one should wash up onto shore. I wound up and tossed it back into the waves, continuing along the stretch of beach. After moving several paces I began to wonder if that was the sign I had been anticipating. I tried not to panic and scanned the waves for the bobbing cone, regretting my hasty decision with each passing second. It was nowhere to be found. ‘If it’s truly a sign it will find me again,’ I urged myself to believe and continued on. Cool water skimmed the tops of my feet. The sun warmed my back. I felt grateful for the beauty of this place, a perfect setting to accompany an extraordinary life experience. I spot my lounge chair in the distance. Feet turn into yards. A gust of wind breaks against my chest and I curve toward it. The pine cone is just a few feet ahead of where I stand. It may seem foolish, but in the years that followed that pine cone remained a treasure to me. And although nothing turned out the way that impassioned girl of nine years ago had hoped or imagined, the memory still serves as a reminder to have faith that love will always find you. It goes without saying that Montauk is a magical place. It has provided me with the time alone I craved to imagine, create, and dream. It has given me an opportunity on every occasion to breathe deep. It has cultivated family memories and experiences that will endure for a lifetime. Montauk has watched me grow from a girl who belted out Backstreet Boys hits during long car rides east to a woman who watches her nieces search for shells in the sand. Montauk is a place to be young, grow old, and enjoy every moment in between. And also, it is a place to fall in love.