I took my last Sandy’s Deli picture sometime in the summer of 2005. Life was chaotic – my dad was in the hospital with an unknown ailment and I was working at the store with my mother, while unpaid tax bills kept piling up. One afternoon a very small fire broke out due to some bad wiring, and a band of firemen came trudging through with their bulky gear, making the store (and me) feel little. Prior to our Engine Co. rescue, my mother and I were running back and forth, she this way, me that way, like cartoon characters. This life felt uncertain and unsustainable. Something, it seemed, needed to change.
When things normalized, my parents decided to sell Sandy’s Deli. A few days later, the store and all the merchandise were sold. The whole shebang, minus the personal affects, just like that. I had started to feel like my photo project was coming to an end anyway. Suddenly, the decision was made for me.
Last week, in a borrowed car, F. and I drove along the L-train route, exploring East Williamsburg and Bushwick. Somewhere along the way, I realized we were only a few blocks away from Sandy’s Deli. As we approached the store, F. said he recognized it right away from one of my photos. We drove past really slowly, trying to get a good look. Several customers were inside. I would have stopped the car but there wasn’t any parking. Peering through the windows, I just couldn’t believe I spent all that time in that space taking all those pictures. It wasn’t the same place anymore.