Welcome to the forums rexb!
First, "which distro should I choose?" is probably the most frequently-asked question on the forums.
I suggest using the Search feature to find some existing discussions on this very topic. You can also visit http://distrowatch.com
to see which distros are the most popular and compare their features.
Second, what can you tell us about your hardware? Without knowing your hardware specs, it is impossible to make a concrete suggestion.
My first distro was Ubuntu. It is the most popular desktop/laptop distro and has an excellent community at http://ubuntuforums.org