Re: Wanting to Get Started HELP
You have some of the important bases covered: enjoy water, frequents ocean beaches, and very active. You are not even too old to learn to surf. It helps that you have surfing beaches with relatively warm water at the ready.
About boards: it truly is more difficult to learn on shorter boards. It is a drag to rent any board, long or short, regularly. Fortunately, you live in the heart of a surfing area. Search the advertisements in Craigslist for Orange County, LA, and, possibly, San Diego. You will find used long boards from $150 (when lucky) to $375. Don't pay $400 or more. Then get out to Blackies -- a lot!
About wetsuits: you said you have a Spring suit. That could be short arms & long legs, short arms & legs, 2mm, 3mm, etc. It may work for now. A good 3/2 will see you year round in Orange county. In winter, wear a rash guard underneath for added warmth.
About Sensei: I really hope you find an experienced surfer that will go out with you about every 3rd time to provide guidance. That helped me tremendously in my first year. I wish the same for you. There is a regular surfer in this forum that lives in Huntington Beach. Maybe he will be able to help. I'm in Irvine a lot for work, but work doesn't allow me much freedom. So, I'm sorry to say I cannot serve as a Sensei for you.
In the meantime: it will do no harm to take one of your short boards out and begin to mess around. See what happens. Stay in the mushy sections (broken waves), so you do not get overpowered and also stay out of the way of the accomplished surfers. Do this at the HB Pier. At first, just ride the mushy wave as if you were on a boogie board. After you get the feel for this, try to stand up in more mushy waves. Let them catch you just as they are breaking. Paddle to get some momentum and then try to pop up. It is especially critical to pop up to your feet quickly on a short board. If you find this just does not work after several days on the water, get a used longboard. I think you'll definitely stand up then. Once you do, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. After you have done this a hundred times and you've built some arm-paddling muscles on the way, then try to catch small unbroken (green) waves.