I started playing for the first time a few weeks ago, after finding a D&D Encounters in my neighborhood. It was a good way to learn the game. I bought the Players Handbook off of Ebay for $5 and a subscription to D&D Insider.
The problem I have right now is that D&D Encounters group is nothing but 10-15 year olds. Being 30 years old, it kinda makes it a bit less fun, especially since a lot of the players are only using melee or ranged basic attacks and have no idea what's going on with their character sheet.
I am taking the time to read through the Dungeon Master Guide and writing my own adventures so that I may put together a game with people closer to my age group.
One thing you might want to check out is Roll 20. It is a kickstarter funded online web based online virtual tabletop RPG community. There are newbie friendly games out there that you can get into. I did my first one last week, roleplaying with 4e rules as Celebrities/Historical figures. I played the pirate Blackbeard who I rolled up as a Swordmage.