I find it curious that the majority would get what they have presently.
If I was starting over again....Do I have the knowledge I do now? Because if that's not a parameter, then I would be just as stupid as I was when I first started out.
I think the OP meant "What kit" did you first have. We all probably started out on pots and pans etc, I know I did, but that was not my first real kit.I started at 16 with a pair of giant spools with vulcanized rubber stapled onto onto them, and a 1'' wooden flagpole cut as drumsticks, all built by my dad to get me started. I moved onto a horrible children's set, and then onto a TAMA Swingstar a few months later.
When I got my first birch set a couple years later, I was more than happy with it, in fact I still prefer birch over maple. I'm honestly glad I started off that way though.
I think beginners NEED to start with crappy equipment to build a drive to move onto better gear and learn the value of practice and motivation. It also conditions them into finding a way to make crappy gear sound good/played well, which is an artform in and of itself. I kind of cringe when I see a child playing on a DW kit with 8 Pro-level cymbals when they don't really understand the value of that instrument yet.
It is like you read my mind, including the stopping lessons and not playing for many years!!Here's a little different take on the OP....
If I had to do it all again, as a child, I would never have stopped taking lessons. In high school, instead of turning out for sports, I would have turned out for band. And, instead of not playing in early adult and mid-life, I would have found a way to work and raise the kids and still play.
At 57, I have been playing again for about 3 years and I kick myself in the butt repeatedly for letting opportunity pass me by.