When I was nine, we lived in a green split-level house with an old magnolia out front. The windows all had sturdy window boxes that my mother sometimes filled with impatiens, and one spring a mourning dove nested in mine. I remember peeking through the glass at the tiny, pink, grey-feathered and hungry chicks and trying not to be spotted by the mama bird. Earlier that spring my father installed white shelves above the small table I used for a desk, and I had all of my books alphabetized by author on the top shelf (all of my series books were in a row, in order, on the bottom shelf). A few spiral bound notebooks and pads of paper were stacked in the upper left corner of the desk, and in a white coffee cup I’d swiped from the kitchen lived a number of pilfered pens (from pharmacies, from my mom’s work, from my sister’s backpack). There was really nothing sweeter to me than having my room neat, my carpet vacuumed, my bed made, and to write while sitting at at my little desk, sneaking peeks at the baby doves in my window. I wasn’t quite beyond climbing the magnolia outside or playing with dolls, yet, but I was settling into a sort of personal decorum that I still find peace in today.