I’m having my first parking lot overnight.

It’s sort of surreal. A little scary, honestly. I don’t want it to be. I want it to be something that I take for granted, just an occasional night camping for free in an oasis of asphalt. And this parking lot is really quite nice. It’s at an art center in West Virginia, and even though I didn’t ask anyone if I could park here, I’m fairly sure (from online reviews) that it’s fine to be here overnight.

But it’s been a really rainy day, so the ground is wet and the windows are wet and everything is sort of black and reflective and kaleidoscope-ish. It would be extremely pretty if I could chat about it with someone other than the dogs. As it is… yeah, it’s a little surreal and a whole lot spooky. R told me to put the curtains up and the blinds down and make myself a cozy little nest and I really ought to follow his advice. I could then pretend that I’m parked in a driveway, were it not for the highway noise. And I could pretend that the highway noise was ocean noise. But I’m sure I will be fine. And if you’re reading this, of course I am, because ha, I have no internet, so can’t post it until I escape from the parking lot anyway.

So, yes, West Virginia. I’m having, in general, a very surreal West Virginia experience. Most of that is internal. I’m swinging back and forth mentally from a very serene, very joyful, very peaceful happiness — the kind of place where a gray and rainy day makes you think about how beautiful flowers are in the rain, with the contrast of their colors against the gray, and how being inside with rivulets of water running down the windows is like living inside a Jackson Pollack painting — to an OMG, WTF? state that I really can’t describe. Except to say that life is weird and so am I.

But this afternoon a monarch butterfly smashed against my windshield and got stuck on the wiper blade. Ugh, it was awful. For the next twenty minutes, its wings fluttered in the wind and I couldn’t tell if it was alive or dying or dead. I finally managed to pull over at a spectacularly beautiful scenic overlook and get it off. Dead, unfortunately. But then there I was at a spectacularly beautiful scenic overlook which I certainly wouldn’t have stopped at had it not been for the butterfly. I kept thinking about chaos theory and what change might exist in the world because a butterfly crashed into Serenity.

But it also felt like a bad omen. Not that I really believe in bad omens. And I do think it’s unfair of me to consider the death of a Monarch a bad omen when at least a dozen uglier bugs die every time I drive on the highway and I don’t even notice, much less mourn their deaths. Unfair or not, though, there it was: I continued on my path with my mood noticeably darkened.

Until, that is, I was crossing over a bridge and I saw a rainbow in my rearview mirror. A serious rainbow, all the colors, down so low — presumably because I was up so high in the mountains — that it felt like it was practically right overhead. It’s impossible to think that bad things are coming your way when you’re looking at a rainbow. Or at least it’s a sign that if bad things are on their way, beautiful things will follow.

So, yeah, West Virginia, surreal place of rainbows and dead butterflies.

Updated to add: and the night was fine, of course! I didn’t sleep well, but I hardly ever do, so that wasn’t a problem. And I actually had a really lovely walk around the art garden in the morning with Zelda, alternately admiring and being critical of the outdoor sculptures. And then a largely beautiful drive through West Virginia and Virginia and a largely seriously boring drive through North Carolina and into South Carolina. The day was alternately cloudy and clear: I’d break through the clouds into sunshine at the top of the mountain and then descend into clouds and then back out again. Some of it was breathtaking. But it was my second day in the row of hours and hours and hours of driving so by the time I got to my campground in South Carolina, I was sort of fed-up with the whole thing. I can’t believe I’m going to do it again tomorrow. *sigh.

Profound thought for the day (not really): men sing a lot of songs yearning for women and women sing a lot of songs about taking care of men. I suspect those two things are not unrelated.