I was born four months before the Berlin Wall fell, two days before the B-2 Stealth Bomber made its first flight, and a month after the wreckage of Germany’s Second World War battleship the Bismarck was found, 650 kilometers west of France and 4791 meters deep into the Atlantic.
That same year the World Wide Web was invented, and the Nintendo Gameboy was launched. The Voyager 2 passed Neptune while The Cold War ended, attested by the first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union that opened in Moscow. It was labeled the end of history, but 1989 wasn’t: It was the start of many things. For me, 15 July 1989 binds me to the human timeline.
Growing up with Lego sets of medieval castles and Egyptian tombs, I painted with digital reds, greens and blues on a boxy Windows 95 computer, which soon was connected to the internet. There was Jurassic Park, Pokémon, the Matrix, and later World of Warcraft — glittering CDs and the oily feeling of a Playstation controller, my dad’s music and the late-night shows on TV, the disasters that became etched in our collective memory — as well as our feelings towards climate change, nationalism, and tradition.
Everything hinges on my birth year — everything I’ve done, all the opportunities that were given to me, and all the people I’ve ever met. I feel the year 1989 in my identity, more than any country or education. Age may or not be just a number, but your birth year definitely isn’t.