Glad you had a fun first time at the range man! I know what you mean about the feeling you get loading the first magazine. I get a little bit of that feeling anytime I shoot a new gun. I recommend shooting a .50 cal rifle sometime. You will definitely get that feeling . It sounds like you are doing the right thing by trying guns out at the range before you buy one. I would say keep testing man. It sounds like you are starting to form ideas about what you want but I think a few more tests would probably help nail it down for you.
You might want to try a Kahr. A lot of them can be had for about $400. The trigger pull is long like a 24/7 but has more feel to it.
You said you are planning on getting something bigger but you rented 9mm so you could shoot more. Why are you planning on something bigger just out of curiosity? It sounds like you were compelled to go with 9mm versus something else because you saw it as more affordable and wanted to have a little more fun that day. Well keep that in mind when you choose the caliber for your gun. Are you going to be able to afford to practice as much and as often if you do go with something bigger? A gun that you can't afford to practice with is a very dangerous paperweight.
One last thing. I don't mean to sound like an English teacher. because I can barely spell , but long posts are easier to read when you capitalize the first letter of the sentence and don't use a lot of run-on sentences.