What to do? When coming up with ways to fill one’s leisure hours the tendency can be to resort to default outings like a trip to the movies or a round at the bar. But with my birthday falling on a Saturday this year, it seemed obligatory that I should find some special way to celebrate. To solve the dilemma of conceiving something fresh and interesting, my wife Brittany put forth an excellent idea: get someone else to do it.
She approached the folks behind Together By Design, a Kamloops venture that puts together custom dates and events for its patrons. We were delighted by the thought of letting someone else take care of all the details of our day, along with the element of surprise this would allow for. Prior to the commencement of our date we received a bundle of envelopes that we were to open individually at specified times.
The first contained instructions to look inside a corresponding package, in which we found an instant film camera stocked with 10 shots worth of film. We were challenged to take certain photographs, a few of which we accomplished on a sunny walk through Riverside Park. The rest we managed to capture throughout the day.
Around 12:30 we opened our second envelope. Inside was a gift card for local microbrewery The Noble Pig, with instructions to go there for lunch. There we enjoyed a feast of pork, salad, deep-fried pickles and the brewery’s own Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale. Upon consuming it all we paid with our given card and prepared to walk it off, as per our next set of instructions.
We found ourselves at Peterson Creek, following step-by-step directions that were supposed to lead us on a hunt to find another envelope that was not included with the others. We descended a set of steps into the park, followed a trail down into a ravine and across a small bridge, and ascended a hilltop on the other side. The hilltop offered a beautiful view of the city’s mountains sprawled and glowing golden in the sunlight, though our next set of instructions could not be seen. We did find the envelope that should have contained them, tucked in the crevice of a log, but it had been ripped open and its contents purloined. Thankfully one of our date’s designers was nearby and was able to meet us with compensatory materials.
Originally we were supposed to visit downtown shop Castles & Cottages and use a gift card to purchase mugs we thought might suit each other. However, since thieves had cost us both the card as well as the scheduled time slot, we instead received a handful of twonies worth the proper amount and skipped ahead to the next stop on our date. Within our 5th envelope of the day we found a gift card for artisan cafe The Art We Are, where we pursued an array of original paintings and handcrafted items while awaiting the beverages we ordered. Then, with lattes in hand, we walked a few blocks to a pre-scheduled, mystery appointment.
This turned out to be a partners session at the Yoga Loft for which we were improperly prepared, being both dressed in jeans. Though I think it was less the restrictiveness of my clothing than the tightness of my muscles that limited the range of the poses we were instructed to hold. Brittany proved much for flexible than I as we braced against each other and twisted our legs, arms and backs in all sorts of challenging manners. The session provided me with relief for the soreness I had been feeling in my lower back, along with the realization that I should probably stretch more often.
Feeling relaxed and limber, we left to accomplish the one task we had missed during the day. At Castles & Cottages we found a mug shaped like a pug and another adorned with images of kittens. Back at home, we let our cat and dog enjoy some dinner served in the newly purchased vessels corresponding to their respective species (because sometimes we can be crazy pet owners).
The date had been an overall success despite the couple of setbacks we encountered. We were guided along an unforeseen path that let us experience some places and pastimes we know and enjoy, while encountering others we might not have thought to try. To leave the planning up to someone else may have been a gamble, but as things turned out it was a great day spent together, by design.
– Cory Magnus Stumpf