My first question is how long would it take to go from being a complete novice (one learn to sail course 10 years ago) to being able to go on long weekend or full week trips (or longer)?
Today is only Wednesday- you still have time to get ready to leave this weekend.
You can spend months reading and learning and preparing and taking course after course and getting certification after certification and, and and, and...
Just go sailing! It isn't rocket science!
Learning to sail WELL, on the other hand... now THAT will take the rest of your life. You can take lessons if you want, but it is not like flying- it is not a requirement. In fact, I will posit, and some will vehemently disagree, that heading out on your own, in inland waters, in moderate breezes will be more beneficial to you before signing up for lessons, as then you will know what you don't know, know what i mean?
I would venture that the vast majority of us here are self-taught, and we have all survived.
Now, for long-term cruising, off a mooring with a tight budget and no economic safety net? Then learn how to fix what you break before you break it.