Some nights, especially as San Francisco nears its typically, lovably perverse summer in September, the fog doesn’t quite make it in or falls apart and retreats, and a few puffy clouds are left scooting across the night sky, low enough to distinctly reflect the city light. When I see them, my mind leaps to a particular, unlikely place.

Panama City Beach, Florida. The Riviera of the South. A white-sand strip of bucket-drink beach clubs, pirate-ship restaurants, mini-golf, and stilt-walking summer homes where a friend and I fled to from Kentucky for two vacations in the late ’80s, finding brief refuge from our deteriorating work situations in a free house whose topside deck had a view over an undeveloped sandy lot to the gently lapping sea just a few blocks away.

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