As I write this we’re visiting my parents in Panama City Beach, FL.
We’ve been coming here for most of our lives and, growing up, it tended to be my “happy place.” It was the place
The beach is still beautiful.
My family’s condo is till comfortable.
The town, like much of the rest of Florida, feels like it is dying. Coming through to the beach looked more like Carbondale, IL than the growing and thriving town we knew decades ago. People have been, in general, far less friendly and generally it feels, like Carbondale, IL, like a town in terminal decline rather than a town with a future.
Sure, they’re building plenty of new beach housing for the rich, just like Sarasota and the rest of Florida, but that’s where the “new” in Florida ends. As Sarasota focuses only on the University area and the keys to the dismay of much of the community, so is Panama City only looking at providing new high-rise condos and town homes for the affluent with nothing to support the new construction.
Going through the town itself, like going by the shopping centers in Sarasota that aren’t on University, is just depressing. Lots are empty, commercial buildings are empty or crumbling and, mostly, no one with any power to do anything about it cares.
Perhaps I need to stop trying to grasp a past where a prosperous future still existing. In both red and blue, Florida and Illinois, areas clearly there is little in the future to be hopeful about in a society where only the rich matter and the “individualism” in the form on immediate convenience is far for important than the community or even individual people in the community. I’ve watched Sarasota start the process of decaying in all areas the rich don’t frequent, while I thought it was a unique problem the truth is we’re watching out entire society do the same.
The future is very dark, indeed.
On a different note, this might also be the last time I visit here. My parents have also seen the area’s decline and are looking at selling the place. They sold the Chicago house we grew up in 6 years ago. This place, which they’re had nearly as long, was my last connection to that time. Watching them move on is sad, but understandable. Maybe it’s the ending I need to find something somewhere else.