I ask Andrew to leave me alone with the space for a few minutes. Dominic came by to help get all the items to the moving van. This would be the last time I would be inside The Rathskeller Club. One of the most important places in my life for the last seven years.
Andrew goes upstairs where Dominic is supervising the van. I’m alone in the Lounge, looking at the vacant space. Trying fill the empty space with memories. I’ll have the memories with me forever. This was the last time I could feel the textures.
I walk into the Bird room, moving my hands against the black walls, painted with flying birds in gold. I commit to memory the small differences in thickness where the birds fly. I look to my left at what remains of the pepper’s ghost effect, wishing I got that effect working again.
I move to the Velvet Corridor, but the curtains of the namesake are gone. Glaring in front of me is an open hole where Library Pod 1 was three days prior. Now a brightly lit floor of concrete punctures the hallway. To my left is a dark but still present Library Pod 2. I crawl in.
Seven years when I first entered this very pod, I was told a fable. A moment where part of my soul was healed and revealed a new artistic focus. My first experience of San Francisco form of psychomagic. I run my hands on the carpeted floor. This space is scared to many people as a place of reflection. Countless people have entered this space and the sister Pod 1 to find a new part of themselves. Or return to a self the once lost. I quietly say to the space: Thank you for everything. I crawl back to the Velvet Corridor.
I’m walking down the hallway we called Tunnel 3. Named as the third door bypassed the two doors of dark tunnels. Calling Tunnel 3 was inclusive for folks who didn’t take tunnels 1 or 2. Different experiences shouldn’t be less important. I run my hands agains the walls of the winding hallway and it’s gray-blue painted walls. Recalling the stories of the people who built this space. How they were torn apart in ways that rhymes with my own workplace abuse. I hope we reshaped the space to heal rather than harm. I raise my arms higher as I approach the end.
I’m in the Ticket Room. The original purpose to give each guest a claim ticket, and we couldn’t find another name for the room. The ticket window that was still there anyway. Now there’s a gaping hole where a wooden slide once deposited guests in the room. The other doors still exist. Once they opened into darkness, but now open to the brightly lit concrete floor. I approach the wall of black brocade wallpaper. If there is a texture that I most associate with this space, it is this wall. If I ever own a home, at least one room will have similar wallpaper.
The memories of the space flow through me again. Seeing the guests arrive and have a sense of wonder of this impossible place in The Mission. My own first entry where I stood in this room for longer than I’d like to admit, taking it all in. My work in house management for immersive making sure people arrived in this room armed with consent and ready to experience. I decided to lightly kiss the wall, as one would a close friend on the forehead. Strange, I know, but it was my way of thanking the room for it’s service.
I head down the emergency exit hallway, stopping in the monitor room one last time. The center of operations, this room controlled the technology that ran the space. The ephemera of past productions and various equipment, now reduced to the bare minimum. Many technical discussions about the work of crafting experiences occurred in this room. I take one last time opening the cubby window that connects to the Ticket Room. Grasping the brass handle on the wooden door and taking a look at the empty hole that was once a slide. I close the door.
I finish walking down the exit hallway. This area was originally considered back stage. In the need to make the second emergency exit more prominent, this hallway became an area of show. I try to run my hands on the right wall, but it’s too sharp. The left was a flat wall with chalk drawings of a skyline, some hash marks, and other markings from scenes long ago.
I pop into the kitchen, washing my hands in the sink one last time. The backside of the lockers, reflecting when actors would conduct 1:1 scenes with unsuspecting guests as heads in a box. Sometimes actors crawling out of the tiny spaces. The backside of the pepper’s ghost where Bryan’s ghost drawing in the glass’ dust still remains. This was the de facto greenroom at times, and sometimes show space to traverse guests to the hallway. I still feel guilty putting the wrong soap in the dishwasher.
Finally I’m back in the lounge. I’m next to the bar, running my hands across the smooth lip of the bar’s surface. I’ve shared drinks with friends, guests, and coworkers. For the high art that was the majority of the space, this bar represents the “third space” where all these points of my life intersected. Now I look out to an empty room.
Finally I put on my hoodie, walk to the exit door, and look across the room. I take it all in one last time. “Thank you, for everything you have done for me.” I say to the space. I exit the doorway and attempt to lock the door.
It takes me a number of tries to successfully lock. I push harder and harder on the door to get the deadbolt to catch. As if all the memories are pushing back at the door, not wanting to be left alone. Finally I successfully lock the door and walk up the stairs to what served as our guest lobby. I walk out onto Capp Street where Andrew and Dominic wait by the rental van. I take a deep breath, and I close the gate.