Prepare for goosebumps.
Lara Lundstrom Clarke was only twenty-four years old in 2001. But despite her young age, Clarke was a successful financial services professional who lived in posh Greenwich Village and worked at Tower 2 of the World Trade Center in NYC.
On the morning of September 11, Clarke decided to go rollerblading by the Hudson River before work.
"It was one of those mornings that felt good, you had a little skip in your step," Clarke says.
After her ride, Clarke was running late for work and decided to jaywalk across 7th Avenue to catch her subway train.
"What the heck—I always cut across 7th Avenue," Clarke said. "Then all of the sudden a silver Mercedes SUV came barreling down towards me."
Clarke says she stopped, and the car screeched to a halt.
"It developed into one of those classic who-goes-first situations," Clarke revealed. "It got ridiculous. Then I made eye contact with the Mercedes driver."
And Clarke recognized her.
"OMG it was Gwyneth Paltrow."
Paltrow then waved Clarke across the street.
"I crossed and she continued on her way."
Clarke was still worried about being late, but thought, "at least if I was late for work I had a story to tell."
After her celebrity run-in (almost literally), Clarke rushed to go catch her subway. But right as she got there, the doors slammed shut and the train went on its way, barreling out of the station and headed for downtown.
The scene was oddly reminiscent of Paltrow's film Sliding Doors, where Paltrow's character misses a subway train and it changes her life. But at the time, Clarke wasn't too impressed with the coincidence.
"At that time I was annoyed at everything that had made me late that day, including Gwyneth Paltrow," Clarke says.
So Clarke waited for the next train. She made the ride, as usual, but when she got out at her WTC stop, the time was 8:47.
Clarke said the scene at the station was "total chaos."
So she left the subway station, emerged from underground--and beheld the massive destruction.
"I looked up and there was a big gaping hole in the World Trade Center," Clarke says.
Her office was on the 77th floor.
"That was the worst thing I've ever seen in my life—my office exploded."
Clarke realized, "If I had made that train I would have been at my desk on the 77th floor of 2 World Trade Center."
Four of Clarke's coworkers died that day, and ever since 9/11, Clarke says she's had recurring dreams of thinking Paltrow in person for saving her life. She adds that she's written Paltrow a letter about her amazing story.