It is time for the fourth chapter of Sand and Ash.
Back in high school, there was no question that I was an outsider. I didn't really associate with anyone except for a few teachers (and in senior year, a few friends). I don't really "make" friends very well, either because I was too quirky or that I just didn't have the right skills.
And I was mocked for that. I want an outsider and most of the other students in the school made a point of telling me that. I found it easier to walk alone to school and eat in the lunch even when the hall monitors didn't approve (I spent the last year sneaking my lunch in a bag to avoid them).
That said, I had a lot of people sign my yearbook. I wouldn't say everyone was a friend, but they at least were friendly toward me.
This struggle shows up in this chapter. Rutejìmo is an adult in this book, a proper clan elder, but he isn't welcomed as one. He has his own struggles, ones that he hadn't worked his way over in the ten years since the previous book. He's also… a bit clueless on certain aspects of his life. It isn't clear if the clan's treatment or his own lack of skills resulted in his situation; I like to think it is a combination of both where one fed off the other.
Why write this? Because I struggled for a long time on similar issues. Also, someone is capable of having something hanging over their head (such as Rutejìmo crush for a woman he hadn't seen for a decade) and still be competent. They can be an outsider but capable, accepted but still unliked.
I'm also oblivious to much of the same things as Rutejìmo, at the novel will gladly explore.