Lily Flores

A couple years ago, I started working at a belt factory in DTLA.  The rote daily drive to work from West to East Olympic became so mundane that after the years, I didn't even know how I arrived to and fro.  In the hopes for a fresh start, I began to intentionally observe my daily path from a place of plushness and glitz - West Los Angeles - to it's gritty East.  Making my way from old Hollywood duplexes, downtown bridges crossing the LA River, and finally into industrial Boyle Heights, the clash of nature with pavement and concrete combined to make my scenic path.

This path led to my work at the factory.  The front offices were small, but hiding in the back was the factory itself, with it's mile high ceilings and skylight windows; bustling colorful machinery, boxes, shelves, cutting tables with the trimming leathers; the smells; the ladies busily sewing and goods being counted and boxed for shipping.  It was in this vast space's assembly line that consumer products were brought to life by the people in the factory, and then those people became the assembly line themselves.  It was two very different sides to Los Angeles, right there, side-by-side, and I saw the life within it.

While we look at Los Angeles as the epitome of objectification of beauty- women, men and bodies, the perception of perfection, ugliness, and success- our city is stereotyped.  Yet past it's superficiality there is so much history to this wonderful city. In the quest for these absolutes, you may come to the conclusion that in reality they don't exist. It is in the cliché beauty.  It is in the labor of the factories.  And, I fell in love with my factory; it's grittiness so open and raw.  I would drive around Boyle Heights after work and came to love the East side of Los Angeles too.

Our workplace can be our second home.  We show up everyday, our vulnerability and identity hiding behind layers of clothing and masked facial expressions, sometimes letting our co-workers in on our feelings and problems.  I thought, how would it be if we let our guard down, just like the factory and the path to work?  This was part of my personal exploration within LA Odyssey.