If ever you think you might pick up a piano in Chicago and drive it across two state lines back to Minnesota, I've compiled some helpful hints for your trip. To quote my sister, Mary Kate, "Easy as pie. Nothing to it."
1. Rent a cargo van.
2. Silence questions about how you will get piano hoisted into cargo van. Tell these detail-seeking questioners that "I can not be bothered with the details! I am holding a vision!"
3. Drive to Chicago.
4. Stop in Wisconsin for gas and find a coffee shop.
5. If you worry about finding a place with fresh food, good coffee, essential oils, and homemade hemp-purses, just look for the VW van cut in half and plastered to the side wall of said coffee shop. It acts as the drive-thru window, and it's a beacon of originality in a sea of Wisconsin cheese houses.
6. Take note that they are Cheese HAUS's not HOUSE's.
7. Upon arriving in Chicago, reserve two hours to get through the god-awful traffic.
8. When trying to locate your cousin's apartment ensure the directions include streets without street signs, that way you can get lost on the south side of Chicago in a white, nondescript cargo van.
9. Park and leave cargo van. Say some prayers that no one steals it. Husband, friends, cousins all assure you that no one wants that van.
10. Discuss brain surgery over dinner with cousin's brain surgeon boyfriend (and owner of piano).
11. Learn important brain surgery details in case you're ever in the position of having to drill into someone's skull: the brain pulses in time with the beating heart. #mindblown. (I am not on Twitter)
12. Receive phone call at 7:45am the next day from movers you found on craigslist saying they're going to be 15 minutes late due to Chicago traffic (see point #8 above).
13. Quell growing fears that the movers you found are actually mentally ill people who answer the phone, pretend to be movers, take reservations, but then never show up. Or show up and murder you. Both realities are equally possible.
14. Console yourself about potential serial killer movers by welcoming your dear friend who's a professional magician to help you with piano move. He'll protect you from psycho, killer movers (no he won't).
15. Hide your disappointment that your friend can not in fact levitate the piano into the cargo van. Or saw it in half. At least not on this short notice.
16. When movers arrive, side step their annoyance on the phone with the fact that they can see no van outside of the apartment. Assure them it's only a couple blocks away. Resist telling them you weren't sure if they were real movers so you never brought the van out of its parking spot in preparation for their pretend arrival.
17. Walk briskly to get the van and relocate it to directly in front of cousin's apartment.
18. When you shake hands with the real movers, take note of the 6-10 inches of height they have on you. Not to mention that their muscles create triple the body size of your own. Praise yourself quietly for hiring the largest men possible to move the piano.
19. Take advantage of a person exiting the locked gates that lead into the courtyard of the apartment building so you don't have to call anyone inside apartment to come let you in. Who wants to be bothered with this step anyway?
20. Kick yourself that the person at the gate whom you were trying to take advantage of is the Eastern European building manager, Gordon.
21. Wish that building manager's English was better so he could understand that you are not trying to steal anything.
22. Push past your internal temperature rising as you realize you have two large black men flanking you, and a nondescript white cargo van parked in the street: back doors open, flashers on, ready to fill with any amount of loot.
23. Revel - only briefly - in the fact that you might look intimidating, or even like a bad ass.
24. Return to earth to realize building manager is nervously asking you to fill out paperwork if you want to live in this building.
25. Repeat the word "piano" over and over again, while desperately trying to reach cousin, brain surgeon, ANYONE on your phone to vouch for who you are.
26. Recognize that you are not in the least bit intimidating and wonder how this man could ever think you have bad intentions.
27. Remember two huge movers standing... right... behind you.
28. Excitedly see the light bulb go off in building manager's eyes when he understands you are just moving a piano. "Oh, a piano! So sorry - my english - yes, a piano!"
29. Hold breath while the movers proceed to move the piano with their own bare hands.
30. Rejoice when the two of them lift the piano into the cargo van. Ponder the fact that movers discuss who has the "shit end" of the piano before lifting it, because you imagine both ends of lifting this piano could cause anyone to shit.
31. Silence sister-in-law when she asks, "How the hell are you going to get that thing out of the van?"
32. "I can't be bothered with the details! I'm holding a vision!"
33. Note to self: call husband and tell him you may need more people than originally thought to get piano out of van.
34. After breakfast return to van and retrieve orange parking ticket from windshield. (Note that driving your parents' vehicles in St. Louis is not the only time when can get tickets for expired license plates.)
35. Before getting back on the road to Minnesota, give sister-in-law and friend a ride to the L.
36. Use this opportunity to make a hard left turn at moderate speed, thereby causing friend sitting in the back (no seat, no buckle) to stabilize dangerously tilting piano.
37. Get out at Red Line L stop and help friend lift the front piano legs so she can retrieve her bicycle wheel which slid under tilting piano during the hard left turn.
38. Drive back to Twin Cities while nervously, excitedly glancing back at piano, like it's your newborn child, worrying it will tilt, crash and break before getting back home.
39. When home, welcome the help of 4 men to move piano inside house. (Calculate in head that two medium-build, fit men must equal the strength of one, huge Chicago mover.)
40. Pat yourself on the back that you didn't perform brain surgery, and there was no magic involved: you just held the vision and got that sucker home!