"Write about a place in which you felt happy."

Typically, when I get questions like this, I mention Fell's Point in Baltimore. It's my favorite place in the world. But I think, coming from a less adventurous standpoint, my favorite place is really somewhere else.

Outside my mother's house, there's a very large oak tree. It is undeniably the prettiest tree in the whole wide world. Especially because the house is right in the center of town, there isn't any other forest on the plot of land. Just the big beautiful tree.

Every year around this time, the little leaves begin to bud as the tree becomes a rich brown again after the gray of winter. The grass begins to grow fresh. As the leaves spread, they create shade for the hammock underneath. That hammock is my favorite place to be. I spent many summers sprawled across it, reading Steinbeck and watching movies on the computer or my ipod. I'd invite friends over to lie with me. I had boyfriends share the space too. So many good memories were on that hammock, from seventh grade curiosity of deep throating bananas with friends, or mutual feelings of trust. Loves blossoming. Ideas coming to life. I wrote a fair share of my book on that hammock.

The best time to be on it is early Saturday morning. The town is quiet, but just loud enough so you don't feel alone. The sun is in the perfect spot to warm your body, but avoid your eyes. A breeze cools you down when things get too hot. You have a glass of lemonade in a mason jar, resting on the grass beneath you. Everything in the world is peaceful. Whatever troubles you may have don't bother you here.

That is where I am happiest.