Before 1980s - my family of origin, birthplace, and circumstances.
Changing cultures taught me that people like to check where you came from to reduce their own barrier from your strangeness, and I am all for it. I love people's stories, and here is mine.
I was born on the river Kalmius, right in the center of a large city Donetsk (Донецьк, Донецк), established before 1779, the fifth-largest city in Ukraine, in the center of economic and cultural region Donbas.
This beautiful city, which was full of roses and interesting buildings - theaters, operas, universities, institutes, and was bursting with commercial live from late 1990s - is now partly destroyed by war.
From the second through the fifth years, I lived in Huliaipole (Гуляйполе = "walk-about field") is a city in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukraine, in the Gaichur river valley ("free steppe" in Turkic). It was established in the 1770s. It has a population of about 13K. Later, I lived and studied in much larger Zaporizhzhia city.
Ethnically, I am a mixed Slavic-German (~1/2 Ukrainian, ~1/4 German, ~1/4 Russian), with undefined Swedish, Polish, and other smaller parts mixed in. None of it matters much to me, but my ethnicity is "written" all over my face - high wide cheekbones, blue eyes, straight slightly reddish blond hair - and I am asked about it often.
My parents married after dating for about three years, when my mother was pregnant with me for about three months. It was autumn.
My mom's dress, especially the silvery roses, was made during a big outdoor neighborhood party in the center of Donetsk, where she grew up.
My mother was a ballerina in her early youth. She was not happy with the perspective to retire early with nothing plus bone pain. She built a career in financial management instead, after getting a degree in finance. Now she is a CFO at a medical council of ~100 consulting doctors.
My father was a brilliant child who finished all schools with highest honors. He became a scientist, theoretical physicist, and later worked as a professor of physics, taught scientific worldview, and published a couple of books on narrower subjects (like solid-state physics) and articles (methodology, etc.).
My grandmother on my mother's side was a Siberian Russian. She was very pretty and managed to have three kids from different guys. She loved men, her grandson, and persimmons. She worked all her life, mainly as a hotel manager, and was driven by pride.
The father of my mom was German, he emigrated to the United States after leaving Europe for good in early 1950-s. My grandmother lost the contact with him for a long time after sending him the last photograph of herself with my mother as a little girl, I've seen a copy of it. She refused to talked about him, probably because of pain and caution. I know the story primarily from my aunt, my mother's 10-year older sister.
He had another son in USA. I arrived here too late to meet either of them.
My father's mother and father married against the will of my granddad's wealthy family. They never received any support or recognition from them, but lived a long life together.
On this photograph they are with their first child, my father.
My mother's sister was the first child of my grandmother, ten years older than my mother, and her early childhood happened during world war II evacuation in Siberia, where my grandmother was illegally gathering the dropped seeds from the harvested fields to feed her. He youth was spent on BAM.
Once in their childhood, my mom had badly beaten an older boy for hurting her kid brother.
Four months after I was born, my maternal uncle was killed in the army, where he was made to serve as an electrician, under undisclosed circumstances. He was 18 or 19, and I never met him. My grandma's long dark hair turned almost white then.
The closest person to a sibling - I called him brother - was my male cousin, who was 10 years older than me, the boy of my mother's sister.
His father was a very tall and almost excessively masculine Greek guy, who was killed in a restaurant knife fight when my cousin was a young boy. His stepfather was a calmer Jewish guy, whom he never really accepted as a father figure.
Hi died young. We wrote songs together. He was the first husband of my father's sister.
As far as I know, he was in love with my paternal aunt since high school, she did not really want him, but finally had married into his wealthy family.